Excessively Long or Specific Project Description
If a project with a skimpy or vague description is cause for concern, and one very short on details is reason to skip it entirely, does this imply that the longer the project listing, the better? I would argue that this is in fact not the case. Certainly more information is better than less, but only up to a point.
Short descriptions don’t automatically mean bad projects, and that’s even more the case for very long ones. In fact, some projects have long and detailed lists of requirements simply because they are big jobs that are well defined. Such listings can be a sign of a fantastic client and a wonderful working opportunity. However, there are also a few potential dangers and issues to watch out for when you encounter a massive “wall of text” listing.
The first concern is simply how long it will take you to read through the listing and really understand what the client wants. Just as you can waste a lot of unpaid time dealing with pre-bid questions when a project is short, sometimes you find a list of details so long that it would take a good chunk of an hour to sift through everything to know well enough if you can do the work, and if a bid makes sense. Be sure to keep estimated budget in mind when deciding whether or not to bother—I have many times seen a project with two or three pages of requirements and a sub-$100 budget and simply skipped to the next listing.
One specific problem situation I’ve encountered with these long projects is a client who doesn’t really know what he wants to have done. Yes, this seems counter-intuitive, but sometimes clients who don’t really have their requirements spec’ed out post reams of material to their jobs in an effort to compensate. It’s as if they are hoping that if you have lots of material to read through, you’ll be able to figure things out for yourself. Needless to say, that’s rarely the case.
Another situation is the client whose requirements are so lengthy and detailed that they go beyond specifying what they want done and move into telling you how they want it accomplished. Whether it is a problem or not depends on the client’s attitude, the type of work, and your own approach to freelancing. There are three related “C issues” here:
Again, some of these concerns can be dealt with, and they won’t be an issue for all freelancers. But these matters are definitely worth being aware of.
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